New Yr’s Day marks the beginning of the brand new relationship between the UK and the European Union, which can make the borders tougher to cross.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
On this New Yr’s Day, the connection between Britain and the European Union has formally ended. On the stroke of midnight in Brussels, Britain left the EU’s huge single marketplace for items and companies and struck out by itself. Which means new guidelines and rules on the U.Okay.’s borders with the EU, just like the ferry ports between Britain and France. Fearing congestion and delays, most truckers stayed away at the moment however not our correspondent Frank Langfitt, who’s spending the day in Dover on England’s south coast, and reporter Rebecca Rosman, who’s on the opposite facet of the English Channel within the French port of Calais.
Completely happy New Yr and welcome to you each.
REBECCA ROSMAN, BYLINE: Completely happy New Yr.
FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Completely happy New Yr, Audie.
CORNISH: So, Frank, I need to begin with you. You are maintaining a tally of what might be a quiet day when it comes to visitors. Who’s on the market?
LANGFITT: Simply not many vehicles in any respect. I imply, there could be stretches of 10 minutes you would not see vehicles even coming down the ramp to get on the ferries. And the explanation for that is varied. One is we’re within the midst of one other COVID surge, and the truckers really must get checks to cross again into France due to the excessive charges of COVID right here in England. One other factor is there was plenty of stockpiling earlier than Brexit. And the opposite factor is that persons are staying away. There are plenty of new customs kinds that they are going to have for the primary time, a number of paperwork. And I believe plenty of trucking firms wished to only hold again slightly bit and see how the brand new system labored earlier than they dedicated.
CORNISH: Rebecca, I collect it is the identical factor on the French facet, however how did the French put together for the day?
ROSMAN: Yeah, positively very quiet right here as effectively. Solely 36 vehicles got here off the primary ship that we noticed coming in from Dover this morning. Usually, you’d see about triple that – once more, for a similar causes that Frank talked about – holidays, COVID. However I used to be standing subsequent to the port director in Calais, a person named Jean-Marc Puissesseau, as these vehicles have been coming off. And he appeared form of emotional, so I simply requested him, , how are you feeling about all this? And here is what he mentioned.
JEAN-MARC PUISSESSEAU: France is prepared for the brand new group and so and so. I’m not unhappy. It is life.
ROSMAN: So on the finish there, here is saying, oh, I am not unhappy. That is life – c’est la vie. However , France is actually prepared. The French authorities has employed 700 new customs officers for Brexit, and there is 13 million euros they’ve invested in infrastructure as effectively.
CORNISH: After 47 years of British membership within the EU, the border, in a manner, had dissolved. What does it imply for it to be constructed again up, so to talk? Frank, what does that truly appear like going ahead?
LANGFITT: Effectively, it does not look any totally different at the moment than it will have appeared earlier than as a result of persons are merely – , they’re driving down, and so they’re getting on the ferry as they all the time have. However they’ve all of those kinds that must be taken care of. I believe extra considerably, Audie, is simply the sense that, for therefore lengthy, there was such seamless commerce right here. And in addition, when it comes to immigration, it was simple for individuals in France to come back dwell right here visa-free. That is all going – it is all altering now. And so I believe you are simply going to see much less mixing. And the UK, frankly, goes to really feel much more like an island than it did for the final variety of a long time.
CORNISH: Rebecca, what is the feeling among the many French individuals at the moment? Like, how are they responding to this basically huge change within the relationship with their British neighbors?
ROSMAN: Effectively, right here in France, I spoke with the mayor of a small fishing city not too removed from right here in Calais. It is essential inside the fishing business. It is known as Boulogne-sur-Mer, and this mayor’s title is Frederic Cuvillier.
FREDERIC CUVILLIER: (Talking in French).
ROSMAN: He is talking in regards to the relationship between France and the U.Okay. And he is saying, , we have all the time had a relationship. At occasions, it has been considerably tumultuous, sure, however that is simply our historical past. You already know, it is form of like a wave – it goes up and down. And we’ll all the time proceed to have a relationship with the U.Okay., and never even Brexit can change that. And the European Affairs minister spoke in Calais at the moment, and his message was that, , if there’s ever a breakdown sooner or later with EU relations, the reply is to not stop however to work collectively to repair the issue. Macron – French President Emmanuel Macron gave an identical message final night time on his New Yr’s Eve tackle to the nation right here, saying that Europe is our future. And , he additionally did not mince phrases on Brexit. He mentioned that is the kid of deception and lies.
CORNISH: Provided that, Frank, fairly sturdy assertion from Macron, what in regards to the Brexiteers? Is that this a second of vindication for them within the marketing campaign to go away the EU?
LANGFITT: Yeah, I believe that they are delighted. This took an awfully very long time, far longer than anybody imagined – four half years. However they really feel that they’re taking again energy for his or her nation from Brussels, from the European Union, and they are going to have management of their borders. That is going to imply, frankly, slower financial progress. Each economist I speak to says that. However, for individuals right here who felt that their communities have been altering and too shortly – due to migrant labor specifically – they’re hopeful that the England now will probably be slightly extra just like the England they really feel they grew up with.
CORNISH: That is NPR’s Frank Langfitt. He is at a truck cease outdoors Dover, England.
Thanks a lot.
LANGFITT: Nice to speak, Audie.
CORNISH: And Rebecca Rosman in Calais, France.
Thanks to your reporting.
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